Auto parts workers adopt new bargaining agenda for contract talks

Main Image
Unifor Independent Parts Supplier Bargaining Conference delegates voting on the adoption of a new bargaining agenda.

Unifor local leaders from across the auto parts industry gathered in London to hold the sector’s second-ever joint bargaining strategy conference and adopt a common set of goals at the bargaining table.

“Bargaining as a united auto parts sector is crucial,” Lana Payne, Unifor National President, told conference delegates. “We have to push employers to stay in Canada, build in Canada and grow good union jobs.”

Unifor represents approximately 17,000 workers across the Independent Parts Supplier (IPS) sector who build hundreds of individual components for the domestic and international auto industry. The conference’s work built on the sector’s first bargaining agenda adopted in 2017. Since then, the sector has witnessed major changes such as the loss and subsequent restart of production at General Motors Oshawa and a rapid movement towards hybrid and battery electric vehicle production.

Payne directly addressed the specific challenges faced by auto parts workers, noting forthcoming shutdowns in production for retooling and the fact that electric vehicles in general require fewer and, in some cases, entirely different component parts.

“We are not letting these parts plants simply fade away. We will fight for every last job and push companies and governments to adopt a forward-looking investment strategy in local supply chains to ensure parts workers fully benefit from this historic EV shift,” Payne added.

The IPS bargaining agenda was adopted unanimously by union leaders at the conference. It sets out new priorities for a wide range of bargaining issues ranging from the length of agreements, rejection of two-tier wages, temporary work, and pension improvements as well as new challenges posed by the rising cost of living and the shift to electric vehicle production.

“Our members in the sector have faced a number of new and old challenges like inflation, the rising cost of living, labour shortages and now potential loss of jobs from electric vehicle manufacturing,” said IPS Council President Emile Nabbout. “This sector is vital to dozens of communities and we now have adopted a comprehensive strategy that addresses the challenges of today to fight for good auto parts jobs in the long term.” 

The Unifor IPS Council built this bargaining agenda based on dozens of meetings, local surveys, research and more to improve and protect jobs in Canada’s auto sector. Unifor’s bargaining conference provided a critical update in the union’s direction, Nabbout said, adding IPS local leaders will continue to meet, share information and support one another in bargaining.

The union also unveiled a new website to support IPS leaders and provide members and bargaining committees with important resources and information to strengthen the union’s bargaining efforts in the sector. The website is part of Unifor’s new Autohub, a one-stop-shop for all the union’s news and materials including the union’s newly released comprehensive auto policy entitled Navigating the road ahead - Rebuilding Canada’s powerhouse auto sector.